They are, as it were, train-bearers in the pageant of life, and hold a glass up to humanity, frailer than itself. We see ourselves at second-hand in them: they show us all that we are, all that we wish to be, and all that we dread to be. What brings the resemblance nearer is, that, as they imitate us, we, in our turn, imitate them. There is no class of society whom so many persons regard with affection as actors.
William Hazlitt (10 April 1778 - 18 September 1830) was an English writer remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism, often esteemed the greatest English literary critic after Samuel Johnson. Indeed, Hazlitt's writings and remarks on Shakespeare's plays and characters are rivaled only by those of Johnson in their depth, insight, originality, and imagination.